Friday, October 11, 2013

The Challenge of Raising Daughters

Recently we've heard about a mum that sold her daughter's One Direction tickets on eBay because the girl lied about spending time at an older boy's place. It's funny when you first read about it, but as a fellow mum raising a daughter, it does send a little chill down my spine. What if Lil Pumpkin acted the same way her daughter did. Would I have reacted in the same way too?

Oh who am I kidding, of course I'm not expecting Lil Pumpkin to be a goody-two-shoes that does not run amok. Look at her now! She's such a cheeky little imp. If she doesn't get into trouble of any sort, I will be surprised! Besides, whoever said that we, her parents, were angels??? I've given a fair share of headaches and heartbreaks to my parents too, I know.

A couple of weeks back, a few friends and I bumped into another gal friend who was off to meet a guy, but didn't want us to know about it. Call it mother's instinct or a simple case of been-there-done-that, but I immediately caught on that she was acting slightly sheepish and I put two and two together to know what she was up to. Later, when the whole group found out the truth because another friend inadvertently blurted it out {oops!}, they were teasing me that Lil Pumpkin better watch out and behave when she grows up because I'm able to catch her moves :P

But it's true. My mum used to say she knew exactly what I was up to just by the way my butt twitched. I guess all mums are like that. We have a nose for sniffing out our kids' troubles, and a radar to sense if they are really crying, or just crying wolf. 

It's still too early to see how Lil Pumpkin will turn out in the future, and there's always going to be temptations and troubles around. Temptations like trying to fit in, binge-drinking, eating disorders, promiscuity. The challenge lies not in bubble-wrapping her against all these temptations and troubles. No, the challenge is in making sure that when those temptations and troubles come along, Lil Pumpkin is a sound and strong young lady that makes positive choices about her life and learn to work through her problems, even if she makes mistakes along the way.

One of the worst things we can do to our kids I reckon is to shelter them from hardships and the truth. It's ok to fall, just make sure that when they do, they have the skills and heart to pick themselves up. If we rush in too quickly to help, we are just depriving them of the chance to develop the skills needed to handle the inevitable, arduous and perhaps brutal demands of life.

I think my mum has given me a good example of how one can have room to grow and develop on their own. When I was a teen, I had a sleepover birthday party and my friends sneaked in alcohol. Yeah, beer, sake, cocktails.. the works. Not sure if my parents knew but if they did, they didn't stop it because they probably wanted me to learn by myself the harsh effects of binge-drinking. If they had stopped us, we'd still be tempted to try it outside of our home.. which might lead to even more devastation. To cut a long story short, it was a real mess as we mixed the drinks and I had such a bad hangover the day after with the mother-of-all-puke-fest, that I swore to myself never ever to drink like that or to make myself feel so horrible ever again. And I never did. Even up to now, I hardly ever take hard liquor or get into a drunken stupor. Lesson learnt. Well played, mum, well played.

It's easier said than done, for sure, as there always is a tendency for the parent to want to love and protect. But over-protection is something we need to avoid so that we don't handicap them for life. We want to be there to support Lil Pumpkin in solving problems on her own, rather than fixing things for her. We want to show her a life that is happy, fulfilling, and doesn't need to be filled with vices for gratification. And especially as her mother, I will show her how to stand up for her values, and respect herself. She does not need to wear skimpy clothes to show that she is beautiful. She does not need to smoke to look hot.  She does not need to be bitchy and put others down to earn respect. She certainly does not need to be slutty to get a boy to love her.

We are not perfect and may not have all the answers to fighting this challenge but in doing all this, I hope that our little girl will be ready to face the world when the time comes for her to stand up alone without us, just like how my parents were for me and my sisters.

What challenges do you face raising little girls and little boys? Any other advice?



The Kids Are All Right said...

Glad you survived your teenage 'puke-fest' and lived to tell the tale :) As a mum to a teenager I've found it really difficult at times to strike that balance between giving them freedom to make mistakes and learn and keeping them safe. I wonder does anyone truly know what they are doing? Lovely post Sakura.

Unknown said...

Lovely post Sukura. Oh the "puke-fest" what wonderful memories that brings back! That mother who supposedly sold the one direction tickets was on Sunrise last week - it was all a hoax to get more people to bid on her tickets. The daughter didn't even know the mother had tickets and was never going to the concert. I personally wasn't impressed with her strategy.

oomph. said...

definitely scary times ahead! my parents were really strict, and i ended up making a lot of mistakes because of that. instead of just telling me or teaching me about things, they just said NO, and i couldn't do anything! my daughter is a teen, and i try to be very open with her. all we can do is love them and teach them and hope they make the right choices.

Serene Seah said...

Indeed challenging ! Was talking to hubbs about raising the two kids ! Both of different gender and yet different challenges. But should a child feels good and is confident of themselves, they will treat themselves well and yes respecting one self too.

Stacy said...

Good post, this. Thumbs up.

An Apel a Day said...

It takes me back in time. Once I tried to smoke a cigarette in my parent's garage. They could smell it of course. What the heck was I thinking? I'm not a smoker!

I had all sisters growing up. I certainly can relate to this post.

Now most of us have had boys. There's only one girl in the mix of 7 boys running around. Such a switch.

In regards to your comment on my blog: You can certainly agree, or not agree with anything I say. I won't judge you for having an opinion. I welcome it.

Unknown said...

As a mum of two girls, I loved this post. I think I may have a tendency to be a little over protective and a worrier, so now and as my girls get older, I am making a conscious effort to step back a little and let them learn from their own mistakes as I did.

EssentiallyJess said...

It's a little scary to think what is ahead for them all. I know I got through my teens fine, but then went crazy as soon as I hit 18. I'm just praying that I can build into my kids enough wisdom that they don't make my mistakes.

Ai Sakura said...

The Kids are All Right: Yeah I can imagine it is harder with teens! Parenting is always a learning journey I feel.. even as the kids get older, new parenting challenges will always arise!

Leanne: OMMMGGGG serious?? Thanks for letting me know.. sheesh, what a "strategy"! Although, I do find it completely plausible that a parent would do something like that to teach their kids a lesson though ;p

oomph: ahh yes, it's all about striking a good balance which can be so so tough.

Serene: yup we can't control how the world acts, but we can try to teach our kids how to react positively to the world :)

Stacy: thank you, fellow mummy of girls! hehe

Alissa: having boys from growing up in a family of girls sure turns the world upside down haha! But I think you're doing a fantastic job :)

Renee: me too definitely.. it is always a conscious struggle for me too.

Jess: yup yup.. the unknown is always so scary. There are some mistakes I've made that I hope Lil Pumpkin won't make either but now that I've been through it, I'll know how to help her survive it. Same for you I'm sure :)

mail4rosey said...

You're right, parents do have that 6th sense to know when their kids are up to something, and usually what it is they're up to. I remember one of my grown boys sneaking out to meet a girl. I could tell by the way he was acting what he was up to.

I'm glad we have that instinct. :)

I have four children, three are boys. My only daughter is a teen now (first year of high school) and changes are coming about that are interesting. Wish me well, I wish you the same. :)

Theresa Mahoney said...

I do not shelter my girls. Period. I get flack for it, but it's easier for them to see the negative side of life and learn from it that way, then to just tell them about it. So far, I think my girls are growing up to be smart, responsible females. I guess time will tell if they stay on that path, but so far, so good.

Raising girls is tough! I'm way ahead of you there, so I am wishing you much luck in the coming years ;) You're gonna need it lol.

Grace said...

While I know I still have a bit of time on my hands before the twinlets get to "that" age, I'm hoping that I'm starting the groundwork to having a close, open relationship with them both.
I know it's going to go through peaks and troughs and that there will definitely be times when they turn their back on me.
It's all a bit scary thinking about it. We can just deal with it when we get to it, I guess...eeks!

C.B. Peterson said...

Oh, I cannot tell you how many times I've had similar thoughts about my little girl. She just turned 2 in August. I hope I give her the best balance possible of good guidance and letting her learn the hard way. Nice post!

Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me said...

Ai - my biggest worry is body image - I have never had a great one and I really really don't want my girl to let the way she looks define her confidence level, I'm doing all that I can to make sure she doesn't but it's not easy with all the images and message the media give us!! GREAT POST xxx

Kathy - yinyangmother said...

This is a lovely post Ai - and your daughter is gorgeous! I so agree that overprotecting handicaps our kids as adults and the most important thing is to teach them the skills and the heart for getting trough life's hurdles (along with compassion for themselves and others). I especially think resilience is important for our daughters.